Once there was an elderly, quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps. Many years ago, the town council had hired this old gentleman as Keeper of the Spring to maintain purity of the pools of water in the mountain crevices. The overflow from these pools ran down the mountainside and fed the lovely spring which flowed through the town.
With faithful, silent regularity, the Keeper of the Spring patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches from the pools, and wiped away silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water. By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal-clear spring, the mill wheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants sparkled.
Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semiannual meeting. As the council members reviewed the budget, one man's eye caught the salary paid the obscure Keeper of the Spring. "Who is this old man?" he asked indignantly. "Why do we keep paying him year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know, this man does us no good. He isn't necessary any longer!" By a unanimous vote, the council dispensed with the old man's services.
For several weeks nothing changed. But by early autumn, the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon, someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A few days later, the water had darkened even more. Within a week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks, and a foul odor emanated from the spring. The mill wheels moved slowly; some finally ground to a halt. Businesses located near the water closed. The swans migrated to fresher waters far away, and tourists no longer visited the town. Eventually, the clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.
Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they rehired the old Keeper of the Spring, and within a few weeks, the veritable river of life began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps.
~Story by Peter Marshall
In this story, the shortsighted town council enjoyed the beauty of the spring but underestimated the importance of guarding its source. We can make that same mistake in our lives. We need to consistently evaluate the purity of our hearts in prayer, asking God to reveal the little things that contaminate us.
Are there leaves of anger, twigs of resentment, or silt of unforgiveness clogging your spring of living water? Just as little by little the stream became clogged and contaminated by debris, so our spirits can become obstructed by the *small sins* of day-to-day living. Let's keep that water clean and flowing!
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."